THE ANALYST by Anne Osborne


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Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, parents and children--psychiatry's everlasting themes, she thought."" That sort of turgid musing is typical of author Osborne's leaden, schematic approach to this tale of Isabel Dunne, Catholic-educated and unmarried psychiatrist on the staff of Mt. Sinai Hospital. Isabel is assigned the case of Paul Kingman, a sensitive young painter and failed suicide; Paul is the weakest link in the triumphant chain of powerful Kingmans, America's foremost intellectual family. When Paul and Isabel hit the couch--in more ways than one--the non-verbal therapy seems of benefit to both doctor and patient: Isabel's repressed upbringing and her feeling of being victimized by men are broken by the satisfaction of helping doe-like Paul restore his virility. But when the family discovers the impropriety, Paul's father, William, a prominent surgeon, comes down hard to break it up--and in turn steers Isabel into his bed. Osborne sends off two different sets of signals here, and it's hard to reconcile them. Is Isabel actually a subtle, strong therapist (she treats and vanquishes all the trendy clich‚s: anorexia, homosexual confusion, adulterous hang-ups; Osborne seems more a student of New York magazine than Melanie Klein) or is she simply a weak woman who shouldn't have ever been trusted with Paul's reed-like ego? Osborne not only seems not to choose, she seems not to care; and what might have been a story with an edge glugs under endless platitudes and block-letter summaries. A careless, noodling book that wanders into areas which the author doesn't seem to understand at all.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow